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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

April 21, 1999
Bob Leachman (CO) 970-243-2778
Bill Gill (KS) 785-539-3474
Ted Owens (UT) 801-524-5001, x 144
Mike Long (WY) 307-772-2374, x 22
Lou Hanebury (MT) 406-247-7366
Sharon Rose 303-236-7917, x415

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE SCHEDULES OPEN HOUSES
IN SEVERAL COMMUNITIES TO DISCUSS MOUNTAIN PLOVERS

To better share information on the mountain plover, a species that has been proposed for listing as a threatened species, the comment period was extended until June 21, 1999 and several open houses across the West are scheduled to take place, beginning on April 21, 1999. In the Mountain-Prairie eight-state region, open houses and/or public hearings will be held in the following locations:

Kansas
Elkhart--Monday, May 3, 1999, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., City Hall Auditorium, 433 Morton

Colorado
LaJunta --Tuesday, May 4, 1999, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Otero Junior College Student Center, 1802 San Juan Avenue
Limon--Wednesday, May 5, 1999, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Limon Community Building, 477 D Avenue. Greeley--Thursday, May 6, 1999, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Weld County Centennial Center, 915 10th Street
Fairplay--Friday, May 7, 1999, 4 p.m. - 8 p.m., Fairplay County Annex, 501 Main St.
Greeley--Tuesday, May 25, 1999, 6 p.m.- 9 p.m., Weld County Centennial Center, 915 10th Street (Public Hearing)
Lamar--Wednesday, May 26, 1999, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., Lamar Community College-Bowman 138 Lecture Hall, 2401 South Main street (Public Hearing)

Wyoming
Wheatland--Wednesday, April 21, 1999, 7 p.m.- 9 p.m., Platte County Public Library
Torrington, WY--Thursday, April 22, 1999, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., Goshen County Courthouse-Commissioners Room
Cheyenne--Saturday, April 24, 1999, 10 a.m. - Noon, Laramie County Public Library
Gillette--Monday, May 10, 1999, 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., Campbell County Library
Worland--Tuesday, May 11, 1999, 1 p.m.- 3 p.m., Comfort Inn
Cody--Tuesday, May 11, 1999, 7 p.m.- 9 p.m., Cody Auditorium
Rawlins--Monday, May 24, 1999, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., Days Inn
Rock Springs--Tuesday, May 25, 1999, Noon - 2 p.m., Rock Springs Library
Pinedale--Tuesday, May 25, 1999, 7 p.m. - 9 p.m., Sublette County Library
Casper--Wednesday, June 2, 1999, 2 p.m.- 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. - 8 p.m.,Holiday Inn, I-25 and Center Street (Public Hearing)

Montana

Malta--Tuesday, May 25, 1999, 4 p.m.-8 p.m., Malta High School, #1 High School Lane (Public Hearing)
Billings--Wednesday, May 26, 1999, 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m., MSU,1500 N. 30th St., Ballroom (Public Hearing)

At all of these public meetings there will be an opportunity to look at information available on the mountain plover, talk with biologists present, and provide any information on the mountain plover and its habitat that would be helpful to the Service in evaluating the status of the mountain plover. Representatives from the American Farm Bureau will be assisting with the public hearings in Greeley and Lamar, Colorado.

The decline of mountain plovers likely is due to a a combination of factors, including the replacement of grasslands by agricultural and urban areas and the decline of prairie dogs, which provide ideal conditions for the mountain plover. Also, biologists are trying to determine if spring tilling and planting on the drylands of southern Wyoming, eastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas and northwestern Oklahoma may also be a factor in the species’ decline. By talking with landowners on their experiences with agricultural practices and mountain plovers and from information provided to the Service from open houses, public hearings and other sources, biologists hope to gather significant data that will assist them in determining the status of the mountain plover.

Grassland birds as a whole are experiencing the highest rate of decline among bird groups, with mountain plover populations declining the most of any grassland bird. The decline of this species, as well as other plants and animals dependent on the prairie, indicates an entire ecosystem experiencing problems.

Mountain plovers are approximately 7 inches tall and are often confused with the more common killdeer. It is predominantly light brown in color with an even lighter colored breast. It lacks the dark breast belt common to many other plovers. They favor short grasslands and barren ground where they can easily find insects, the mainstay of their diet. During the spring when it is breeding, it has a distinct black cap and a thin black line between the bill and eye.

They are found from Montana south to Texas, with most breeding and nesting occurring in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming. Fewer birds occur in Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Wintering populations of mountain plovers are most numerous in California with fewer birds in Arizona, Texas, and Mexico.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.


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